Work-Life Balance Takes a Hit
The state of the economy affects our lives in so many different ways. More than just influencing our financial health, it can also force changes in other areas as well. The Washington Post recently reported how one side effect of the current economy is a shift away from a healthy work life balance.
The basic argument of the article is that when job security is reduced, employees are more likely to devote more time to their jobs. In an effort to seem as valuable as possible, employees are also cutting back on their use of many of the benefits that bring balance to their lives. Some of the cited benefits were the use of flex time, sick days, and telecommuting arrangements. They are more tentative to initiate new uses of these benefits, fearing that they may appear less committed if they ask for such special treatment.
From the employer’s perspective, the importance of work-life balance programs is also diminished. The main purpose of these programs is to retain quality employees. As part of a total compensation package, such intangible benefits may help to keep top employees who could earn slightly more elsewhere. But with alternative job prospects less attractive, employers have less fear of losing key personnel. Making cuts to work-life balance programs seems like a natural first step before cutting pay.
Some companies have actually used the slow economy to encourage flex time and telecommuting as a cost-saving measure. As a full-time telecommuter, I can attest to the productivity boost that working remotely has given me. I telecommute so that my employer can benefit from my services despite the fact that I moved far away from the company’s facility, but the productivity gains would be just as great if I were telecommuting locally.
Unfortunately, many companies use difficult times to eliminate non-traditional work arrangements, without weighing their potential benefits. Workers, forced to forgo the very work-life balance programs designed to retain them, may leave their current employer as job prospects start to improve. So go into survival mode and give a disproportionate amount of your time to your employer if necessary to keep your job, but just remember those sacrifices for negotiation leverage in the future.
Have you been working harder for fear of losing your job?
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 6:05 am